They were born decades after American forces had sprayed the herbicide dioxin Agent Orange in South Vietnam, but some children living in the region today continue to suffer from the horrifying effects of the chemical.
New York City-based photographer Brian Dricscoll traveled to Vietnam to document the everyday struggles of third generation Agent Orange victims battling dozens of serious ailments, physical deformities and mental disorders.
Driscoll was inspired to take up this difficult topic by his uncle, a Vietnam War veteran who may have been one of estimated 2.6 million U.S. soldiers believed to have been exposed to Agent Orange in the 1960s.
The American photographer traveled to Hanoi and tracked down a group of young Vietnamese whose health has been ravaged by the chemical, the site Feature Shoot reported.
For three weeks, Mr Driscoll made his way south through remote villages, ending his journey in Nha Trang about 640 miles from the capital.
During his travels, Driscoll got to meet and take pictures of teenagers and children as young as 5 suffering from debilitating conditions, among them Nguyen Pham, 11, who is deaf, blind and mute. The boy has been bed-ridden for most of his life.
Agent Orange is the combination of the code names for Herbicide Orange and Agent LNX, one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its chemical warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971.
In the course of 10 years, American forces sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of the chemical in Vietnam, Laos and parts of Cambodia in an effort to deprive guerrilla fighters of cover by destroying plants and trees where they could find refuge.
The chemical was manufactured for the U.S. Department of Defense by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical. It got its name from the color of the orange-striped 55-gallon barrels in which it was shipped to Asia.
Jeanne Stellman, of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, estimated that up to 4.5 million Vietnamese were living in the 3,181 villages that were directly in the spray paths and were potentially exposed to the herbicide.
According to the Vietnam Red Cross, about 1 million Vietnamese have been affected by Agent Orange, including 150,000 children suffering from birth defects, CNN reported.
The U.S. government, however, has dismissed these figures as unreliable and inflated.
Among the illnesses contracted by people exposed to the dioxin are non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, several varieties of cancer, type 2 diabetes, soft tissue sarcoma, birth defects in children, spina bifida and reproductive abnormalities, to name a few.
Earlier this month, the Association for Victims of Agent Orange in Ho Chi Minh City has filed its fourth lawsuit against American chemical companies that produced Agent Orange.